Track 2: Alternative Publishing Models: It's Not Only about the Printed Hardback


Angela Tung,, @tung_angela

Kamy Wicoff,,

Katherine McCahill,

Peter Harris,

Moderator: Jane Schonberger,, @jschonb

AM: Audience Member

JS: I'm the moderator. Let me introduce the panelists. Kami is founder of, it's a resource for Women and she's also the author of "I Do But I Don't". Angela's memoir Black Fish is now available and now working on a novel Chinese Dumpling Maker. Katherine is an editor at Penguin. Pete Harris runs the Penguin Development Group, imprints across the house that will go into the entertainment field. How many in the audience have published a book? Traditional verses self-publishing. We can't all be Stephanie Myers, Elizabeth Gilbert, Publishing industry is like music, self-publishing, niche, and digital distribution.

KW: At Penguin, we're experimenting with digital e-books, apps, etc. We're trying to bring the writer to the reader while finding new voices. We're starting a new digital imprint where you're first book will be a digital e-book. E-specials, shorts, NY articles in fiction and non fiction. We at Penguin can offer the reach of all e-retailers.

JS: Are you buying rights?

KW: We buy both digital and print since it can go into print.

JS: Angela has self-published a book. Can you tell us about the vocabulary of it?

AT: I self-published tired of waiting. I published back in 2005. I took my time, got it workshopped, revises, queried, entered contest. Got honorable mention. Queried again. At some point I got tired. Rewrote another version after hearing back from an agent with good advice. I wanted to get my story out there and leave behind part of my life and to move forward with the story.

JS: Can you print v pod?

AT: I'm using Then there's the e-book (not compatible with Kindle or Nook and you have to hand convert your manuscript to fit these). With you can track sales. Createspace is another site but it lumps copies together. It wasn't that difficult of a process except for the layout. You have to purchase an ISBN to get on Amazon. It has to be a specific size. Lulu offers marketing packages—about $3,000.. Your better off building your own marketing platform.

Now a number of publishing platforms available. Pete goes out of his way to find other lives for books.

PH: All the major publishers are trying to get in. Random House Films, McMillan Films, TransMedia (constructing the world that informs all things that goes on in it). For the Penguin Development Group we're thinking about those things. You should think about the page and content. I worked on Twilight series. I think Marcelle deChelle a YouTube video, it's an example of whatever you put out has to be great. Your story could go onto a larger platform.

JS: Kamy, can you talk about your experience?

KW: When I started SheWrites, it was different. I published with Perseus in 2006. I wanted a place to share knowledge so we, as writers, didn't have to reinvent ourselves. My book was about weddings and brides and I contacted people via email. I was collecting stories from women. I would do it differently now. It's possible to create the book by thinking outside the 300 page hardcover. Anthology. Podcasts. PDF guide. Think creatively like a poet, what are ways you can interact in new ways with readers. It's a more open and fluid time. Maybe like music, writers and storytellers will have small audiences.

JS: Does anyone have questions about platforms?

AM: Hi, Karen Fine. Does Penguin pub e-books?

KM: Hard, paper, mass market, and e-book. Yes, we're pub simultaneous e-books and print books.

AM: Do you get into e-book apps?

KM: Yes, we're looking at apps. Publishers are now open to these kind of submissions. Everyone thinks more creatively as we progress technologically. Can this project be something else.

PH: I just came from a meeting. Is it an app or a movie.

KW: What are the writers rights? Can the writers go on their own if they're with the house.

KM: Interesting place between multi-media rights. The app is sexy now. This is the book. This is the story. What can an app do that your ebook can't do? If we're doing an app, it's its own piece. We need to start with what is the product before we can create one.

JS: Will Penguin get involved in premium content?

KM: I think it depends on style of book. Craft book or can we create a subscription site. There are new business models and way to get people excited.

AM: Can you talk more about trans-media?

PH: No, we're creating books first. Then we consider other media formats like movies, video games, or tv shows. For trans-media, the goal is to create a world like Tolkien. Let's say I advise you to create a book that is more traditional but if a whole trans-media world applies, then you can include it to better illustrate all parts of the world. The trans-media needs to be as good as original.

AM: Are you still going traditional route?

PH: Yes.

AM: I'm starting with an app about Heckerty the witch so we have no plans to create a book. At what point in the publishing world are we going to address beginning with other media before starting a book.

PH: Submit it like a book proposal, query us and have it as solid as a traditional proposal.

AT: It's like the blog to book or blog to tv or blog to video games phenomenon. Use social media. Twitter hashtags are awesome for generating audience.

JS: How do you get from Point A to B?

KW: How many in the audience want to self-publish verses agent? They're two different conversations. But the outcomes are similar. You end up with a book. Either route the content needs to be creative. The book from either path has pluses and minuses, fundamentally think how to distinguish your story and end product from everyone elses. Think about teaching, op-eds, getting your audience to participate. I have radio shows via BlogTalk Radio. There is a lot of stuff on SheWrites. We have webinars and comparisons on both. If you're creative and entrepreneurial, it's possible self-publishing could work for you. The big questions are around advance. Can you write your book with a self-funded advance? How do you get an audience? Build community like an app or world around your subject. It's a key way to distinguish yourself.

JS: (To the audience) Any questions?

AM: I'm Dana DeDemco from Feast, Fast, or Famine. I have a question about self-publishing. How much did you pay to publish your book?

AT: I didn't pay anything. Well I paid for book copies...

JS: Lulu does Print on demand, like a t-shirt company. Lulu tries to upsale you with different tiers of support. Can you talk about what other options you have as a self-publisher?

AT: I haven't done them. I paid a friend to letterpress my cover. I have friends who are good copyeditors. I took classes. I bought copies to give away for publicity. I had an anon blog. After I wrote the book I revealed myself. My audience was built in and they helped to build the cover. Gave them copies to the readers and they reviewed. A friend from college associated with Giant Robot Magazine and had a big audience.

KW: The key to ask yourself is Is this project a book length 300 page project. It's like a SNL skit where they make you do a movie. They did a show on SheWrites about this. Some ideas make better short stories, essays, and through Kindle Singles there are better lengths to publish your works. You can make money off shorter forms now. There are fewer places to submit short works. What are some other alternative publishing models?

JS: There is a big difference between book, pamphlet. If you're at a conference, you could customize a book for that 500 to 1,000 audience members via POD.

KW: Or make a chapter available.

JS: Yes, you can publish a smaller page count too.

KM: I'm on the marketing and publishing side. I spend time with editors to flush out video, app with audio, what art or extra content do we need. Once we get that going, I work with marketing and publicity to target to tech journalists and marketing it accordingly.

JS: How is the money spent for multi-media packages and are their specific licensing rights that apply?

KM: I work with the production, marketing, and permissions teams. It depends on the end goal of the product for the series of books. We pub books by Keri Smith. She has a breakfast journal. We've never been able to do an extended digital form since the journal has coffee spills and a place to journal ideas. We're doing it as an app for $4.95 you can spill water on it and we spent time making it interact. We just did an app for Jack Kerouac's On the Road. We wanted it to be special and had to work hard to get all the licensing. Letters between Jack and his editors plus maps. It falls on both the publisher and the author.

KW: I love the idea of giving more to a reader who wants more. Friend who researched her Jewish routes and traveled for it. There is a lot in my book, like diamond rings, that could have been enhanced. Friend doing a book on gay rights movement, so reader could see footage of the movement or read/hear interviews. Authors don't take enough advantage of this.

KM: Great point. At Penguin, we're trying to encourage pulling together a multi-media package as you go. It will at the very least make your marketing campaign better. People like to engage and know the varied content, notes, process, can be highlighted.

JS: Pete, what kind of things are producers and publisher looking for? Niche v. main stream.

PH: Good news, people are reading more than ever. Publishers are more open: short, long, e-book. Hollywood doors are getting tighter. Think of franchises, a series of films, toys, comic books after they're successful films. I don't want to say keep doing vampires and zombies, the book pubs will want to see this but the movie industry will want new cutting edge content.

JS: Genres, do you think paperback v hardcover is more success?

KM: I think we're seeing thriller, romance, zombie doing well as e-books rights now. I think non fiction leads itself well to an e-book (cooking, craft) it's enhanced by seeing people doing it. A lot of content that can do better. We as pub are looking for great content, ideas, and stories.

PH: I think that to pitch to publishers, you can almost send anything if it's gripping. Three chapters, an app idea. In Hollywood though it needs to fit in a tighter box.

KM: We want to use multi-media, we want to use it to serve your content. We want it to make your story or non fiction better.

JS: Questions?

AM: If I want to submit short stories, is it the same process for an e-book?

KM: Yes, query plus samples and e-book takes less time than print book. It's still a book, whether it is e-book or print book. We're looking across spectrum to see where the course of the book should go. If you're working with an agent, work together so it gets to the right place.

AM: Hi, I'm Joy. I moved to Mexico a few years ago and started a blog about my experiences and the story ended. Should I do an e-book or a graphic novel. What advice would you have on reviving this?

JS: Move to another city and do it again.

PH: What are you the most confident in doing?

AM: I'm in tech world now. I've thought graphic novel.

PH: Penguin doesn't publish graphic novels.

KM: Just started.

KW: I think as a blogger is that it's changing but the idea has been that 60% of the content needs to be new. This is changing. There is low risk to putting content on a blog and seeing if it grips people. Publishers want content that has had life and content before going to the publisher. I would advise people to put your short story or essay out there.

KM: It's a great place to hone your voice. It strengthen your voice. If you put a story on a blog with hundreds of comments, they want that voice that people are gravitating toward.

PH: I vote graphic novel.

AM: If someone is thinking digital format, why would one pick Penguin v. Amazon?

KM: Penguin is the flightless bird (laughter). DC Comics is on the Kindle. If you sign with Amazon, it's harder to get across distribution channels. If you're in situation where you can't sell e-book rights with traditional publisher then its going to be harder.

AM: If I pub with Amazon, digital and print v. Penguin.

KM: We're investing in your career as a published author. With Amazon, you are a self-published author.

JS: Check out resources online and on twitter.


Publishers Weekly

@The Atlantic